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Old 03-26-2008   #11
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 646
Several years ago, someone asked this exact same question on a post.

One of the replies was so good, I saved it:

Your level of safety while kayaking varies tremendously based on your personality. If you are a mellow person with good judgement, into scenic cruising and mild play boating and if you combine that with good instruction and safety training, kayaking will be very safe for you. Of course accidents can still happen but it will probably be much safer than driving to the put-in.

However, if you are like me (and most of my kayaking buddies,) and you are always pushing yourself, going for the gnarliest rapids you can find, and totally addicted to the adrenaline rush, things are going to be much different. Close calls and Injuries will be common. You will see friends die. And there is a good chance you will be killed yourself.

My advice: Live your own life, be who you are, and if you're like me... get a big life insurance policy, tell your wife you love her, and go have a ball. "Always remember... safety third!" and "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space."

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Old 03-26-2008   #12
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ecjohnson's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 71
You could always stick with rafting...

I'm not trying to rip on kayaking... I wish I could kayak on something more than our class III(kind of) town run. But I have had my shoulder dislocate easily 3 dozen times. I had surgery once, and still dislocate my shoulder. It's an old climbing injury. I have trouble with bracing mainly.

In that light, I decided to get into rafting more. I've only once felt my shoulder close to coming out, but it didn't. I row mainly, and I don't feel nearly as vulnerable as when I'm in a kayak.

That being said, rafting can still be plenty dangerous. It just comes down to how willing you are to take things slowly and be smart about what you want to do, and how fast you want to push to class IV and V.

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Old 03-26-2008   #13
tango's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 690
you could think about the whole sport the way i think about each rapid:

does the fun factor outweigh the danger? if not, consider walking.
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Old 03-26-2008   #14
Seattle, Washington
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 18
The vast majority of the injuries I've seen on the river involved people with relatively little experience pushing themselves on class IV/V. While there are many people that can run and even style the hard stuff during their second or even first season, the fact of the matter is that these people are more likely to get hurt. Taking your time at the beginning and putting in lots of time on easy water with good people is clearly the safest way to go, unfortunately, for me and many others, paddling whitewater that's at the limit of my ability is usually the most fun. As said before, it depends on your personality and what you are looking for in the sport.
Compared to sports like mountain biking, skiing? etc, kayaking seems to result in fewer ER visits; being afraid of injuring yourself is not a good reason to not start kayaking. However, I've never had to deal with those mankfests in Colorado that I've seen in videos, but I guess you have to make deal with what you've got, right?
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Old 03-26-2008   #15
bwilkins's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 88
Student Insurance

I'm also a local student over 25. I get insurance through my university. I've luckily only had joint pain and trauma from over training and bad form. In my experience if you don't play too hard for too many hours at a time and only run stuff that you feel mostly comfortable with you should most likely be OK. Get some insurance through your school, you can just add it to your loans if needed and then you can feel free to have fun.
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Old 03-26-2008   #16
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 87
If you wait until everything in life is without some risk then you will be to old. That was my problem, I wanted to kayak for years but things were not right, one day I said the "He$$ with it" and took lessons. Should have done it years before, just go for it!
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Old 03-26-2008   #17
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 6
I've always thought the most dangerious part of kayaking is just getting to the put in. But I also think if you're smart about how you approach the sport then you should be able to mitigate some of risk. You know, like making sure you can roll before taking on the big south is always a good idea. I also think you can mitigate some of the injury risk to your shoulders by doing rotator cuff exercises and by generally staying in good shape year round.

As far as the insurance goes--and I can't help shameless promotion here--check out my website at BenefitRiver Health Insurance. I started this company late last summer. It's my attempt at finding the balance between feeding my family and being able to spend time on the river. You can compare rates and purchase catestrophic coverage on the website. That said, if I were you I'd look at BCBS's Tonik. It is as cheap as you'll find and they'll pay for the ambulance rides (most others don't). Good luck

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Old 03-26-2008   #18
raftus's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,128
General weight lifting is a good, but specifically Google rotator cuff exercises - stuff like internal and external rotations. Doing them now can really help prevent shoulder issues in the future.

To Mania's question: Depending on the source car accidents cause something like 15 to 17 deaths per 100,000 people. The overall rafting/kayaking/canoing death rate is something like 2-4 per 100,000. Rafting has a rate of .55 to .87 per 100,000 and kayaking is 2.9 per 100,000 (AW summation).

I posted a chart on boatertalk a while back with a bunch of other sports and causes of death but I can't find it now.

Check out this pdf, it has comparative accident and death rates as well as the most common injuries for both rafters and kayakers:

Overall most boating fatalities are due to alcohol and not wearing life jackets. But this is mainly the power boating and inner tubing crowd.

Rafters, canoeists, and to a limited extent kayakers, get into trouble when they are inexperienced and in over their heads. Kayakers who are really good and doing really hard stuff account for a large portion of kayaking deaths. The numbers don't show the same for rafters, but honestly that is probably in part because there aren't that many rafters running class V and V+ creeks. Also rafts don't tend to piton and trap people underwater.

The most common kayaking injury besides minor stuff like blisters and abrasions is shoulder dislocations.

Rafters most common injuries is from hitting something in the boat - like a t-grip or a cooler. Next up is hitting stuff while swimming. The pdf actually recommends that rafters wear face masks to avoid cuts and bruises. Maybe I should ask WRSI to sponsor me ; )
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Old 03-26-2008   #19
krashhadley's Avatar
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 78
I'm getting ready for my third awesome summer of kayaking. I paddle mostly class II and easy class III. Just do it man. Even if you're like me and don't go balls out. Of course I want to get into bigger water but that will come when I get completely confident in my ability to roll and brace. My advice, go buy some decent used gear take a lesson on wet exits, rolling, bracing, and getting into and out of eddies. once you have that find some other boaters to go with. You will love it, I promise. By the way I don't have health insurance either, but you can't let the possibility of getting hurt stop you. have fun out on the river
life is too important to be taken seriously
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Old 03-26-2008   #20
KSC's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032
Whether or not you kayak, get some health insurance coverage.

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